Forty-three states prohibit abortion after a certain point in the pregnancy, including Alabama’s near-total ban and 4 that passed heartbeat bills in 2019.
Anne Godlasky, Jim Sergent, and Nicquel Terry Ellis, USA TODAY
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision gave women the constitutional right to access abortion.
However, most states have limitations.
Seventeen states ban abortion at viability, meaning that the pregnancy has reached the point that the fetus could survive after delivery (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware*, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland*, Michigan*, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana*, Tennessee*, Utah*, Washington and Wyoming). Of those states, six* make exceptions for either life endangerment/threat to the woman’s health, rape/incest or fetal abnormality.
Six states ban after 24 weeks (Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York*, Pennsylvania*, Rhode Island*) and Virginia after 25 weeks.
Nineteen states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin) ban abortion after 20 weeks (most make some exceptions in the grave circumstances outlined above). A number of these states have recently passed more restrictive measures that have not yet taken effect.
Six states passed six-week abortion bans (Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Dakota) but none is yet in effect. All but the measures in Iowa and North Dakota were passed in 2019. Theirs have since been struck down.
On May 24, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed an eight-week abortion ban.
In 2019, legislation prohibiting abortion after six weeks was introduced in 11 states (Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, Illinois, Louisiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, New York and West Virginia). Tennessee and South Carolina rejected those bills, and New York passed a bill protecting abortion rights.
The Alabama Legislature passed a near-total abortion ban, signed into law by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey. Similarly restrictive bills were introduced in Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington and Mississippi.
Also in 2019, bills that would protect abortion rights were introduced in Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont. New York passed its bill.
In addition to gestational limits, some states have adopted a number of other measures affecting abortion, including:
- Requiring counseling
- Requiring a wait period (after counseling)
- Requiring parental approval if the patient is a minor
- Restricting public funding
- Restricting insurance coverage
- Requiring more than one doctor
- Requiring it to be performed at a hospital
- Allowing doctors to refuse
Republicans hope that getting a case in front of the conservative-leaning Supreme Court could result in Roe v. Wade being overturned. Americans are evenly split on whether they identify as “pro-choice” or “pro-life,” according to Gallup polls, though they are less divided (and more in favor) when asked specific questions about abortion being legal. Abortion rights groups promise legal battles, guaranteeing that the issue will remain a key one going into the 2020 elections.
Source: Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports reproductive rights